By STEVE JONES Staff writer

Looking to save $1 million over 15 years, the Common Council will consider a massive $1.4 million commercial water meter upgrade.

The council will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. On the agenda is a proposal from Municipal Operations Committee Chair Louis J. DiMarco Jr., D-7, and committee member John M. Sparace, R-1, to add a project to the energy efficiency contract with Johnson Controls.

The city has already been working with the company, and "based on the finding of (Johnson Controls) regarding the city’s existing water meter facilities and utility metering accuracy improvements, it appears that the city will realize, among other things: cost savings; improved meter accuracy; and improved operational efficiencies by undertaking and implementing upgrades and/or replacements of commercial water meters" and other systems related to the meters, the legislation states. The proposal outlines a $1.4 million spending plan that would, over the course of 15 years, save an approximate $2.4 million.

"We’re just trying to make things more accurate for the businesses and the city, so it’s a win-win situation," said Sparace today.

The council will open its meeting with a public hearing at 6:55 p.m. for input on a proposed property tax benefit for Cold War veterans in Rome.

The council is considering an exemption covering only city taxes and not school taxes or special assessments. The county already has a similar exemption for county taxes. The proposed local law is a 10-year exemption for Cold War veterans or their unremarried spouses for their primary residence for 10 percent of a property’s assessed value up to $6,000.

A Cold War veteran in this case would be one who served on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces between Sept. 2, 1945 to Dec. 26, 1991, and was honorably discharged. A veteran with a service-connected disability would get an additional exemption of half the disability rating up to $30,000.

Members of the council will meet at 5:30 p.m. to tour the Liberty Gardens housing complex on North Levitt Street. The council voted at its last meeting to approve a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program for the second of three phases of renovation work at the 180-unit complex at its last meeting, but members still wanted to see the ongoing work of phase one and the rest of the site. The tax deal — the second of three likely to be arranged for the three-phase renovation project — will mean a payment of $300 per unit per year to the city. The complex, owned by the Rome Housing Authority, is tax-exempt so any payment is new money in city coffers. If all three phases receive a PILOT at $300 per unit, it would mean a total of $1.62 million over a 30-year period. The first phase will generate $702,000 over 30 years, the second phase will generate $450,000 and the third phase would generate $468,000 if that PILOT is approved when that phase is close to starting.

The agenda also includes two proposed rehabilitation agreements for city-owned parcels. These deals require the support of at least five of the council’s seven members. Each deal has work required to be completed to remediate the parcel, and if the work is not done, the city can keep both the parcel and the sale price.

The agreements are:

¿ Sale of 337 W. Dominick St. to Mark Schachtler for $6,500. This is the former Moose Club lodge. The proposal is for a restaurant. The parcel is assessed for $125,700, according to city records.

¿ Sale of 410 W. Liberty St. to Sandra Corrice for $501. The single-family dwelling is assessed for $16,600, according to city records.

Another resolution covers a donation of $500 from First Source Federal Credit Union to the Parks Department for the 2012 summer concert series. Like last year, the city is partnering with the Rome Art and Community Center, which will host the Thursday evening concerts on its lawn at 308 W. Bloomfield St. There will be five concerts by local bands starting around mid-July, with specifics to be announced later this month.

The city was seeking a sole sponsor to cover the entire $4,000 cost, and is still seeking donors to cover the rest of the costs in various increments. To donate, contact the Parks Department at 339-7656 or e-mail Director Richard A. Miller at rmiller@romecitygov.com.